Macey, an only child, is named as Executrix in her mother’s will. Macey’s father, John, was extremely organized. June not so much. Before he died, John had put everything in order and explained to June and Macey where they could locate all the information needed to make handling his estate efficient and easy. June often has difficulty finding her checkbook, much less balancing it. What can Macey do to prepare to assist her mother in medical emergencies and death?
Macey found an excellent summary of elder law issues in the Elder Law Handbook prepared by the Houston Bar Association in 2015-2016 which she downloaded onto her computer to quickly reference from time to time. The handbook can be found at https:/texaslawhelp.org/article/elder-law-handbook-houstonbarassociation.
The handbook covers topics from Social Security, powers of attorney, wills, trusts, funeral arrangements and many others.
Since organizing is not June’s forte, Macy can help her mother put together the medical, personal and financial documents so that they are easily accessible.
Although more and more seniors are already or are becoming computer savvy, there are a number who are not. June fits in that category. She still receives paper bills, banking and investment statements. Macey can assist her mother in preparing a notebook into which she places the following documents:
Birth certificate Social Security Number Life insurance information, including policy number Names and addresses of family physician and medical records Special arrangements made for health care, including advance directives Funeral prearrangements Trust documents, if any Will Sources of income and assets Bank statements and safe deposit box locations Mortgage papers, if any Investment account numbers and contact information Negotiable securities Credit card numbers and contact information Most recent income tax return Loan papers, if any Divorce papers, if any Macey might prefer to scan the documents listed above into her mother’s or her own computer. That way she can easily access them and print them at any time necessary. Macey might consider having June give her power of attorney so that Macey can set up online banking and credit card accounts so that the information comes to her as well as her mother.
When the loved one has already receive financial information online, it is essential to have access to I.D.s and passwords.
Often those dealing with loved ones who are less focused on organization than John was face the evil of procrastination when approaching the issue of planning for medical emergencies and death. Tact and persistence are the antidotes to this problem. Often the subject has to be revisited time and again. Progress may have to be made in increments. Sensing how far to push in any one session is key to keep the parent or other loved one engaged in the process without shutting down completely.
Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.